Balance Billing is a common problem when you go to out-of-network doctors not covered or partially covered by your health insurance. The consumer is charged for these costs in bills that could come weeks or months after the initial visit or procedure.
There are steps you can take, however, to mitigate these surprise medical bills. First, be sure to check your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) which usually comes with the bill. Check the dates to make sure the service you are being billed for is accurate and which services were actually performed by out-of-network providers. Be prepared. Get an itemized copy of your bill and know what the “usual” charge is for the procedure. Sites like FAIR Health can help you determine what costs are common for medical procedures in your area. Call the provider and ask to speak to someone in billing who can assist you with the bill. You can also write to your insurer and request that they cover a portion or all of the balance billing.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to avoid balance billing is to make sure you go to network providers. Call your insurer in advance, if possible, to make certain all your care is being handled by in-network doctors, from the surgeon to the anesthesiologist. Make sure all lab work and tests needed in preparation for the surgery is covered as well.